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SAN FRANCISCO – President-elect Donald Trump has officially killed the drug industry’s buzz.
At a press conference Wednesday, Trump said that drug companies were “getting away with murder,” and suggested that the US government needed to negotiate drug pricing.
The comments came with drug executives and investors gathered in San Francisco, at one of the largest industry conferences of the year. Up until Trump took the lectern, the tone of the conference was optimistic. News of takeovers and partnerships early in the week had stocks rising. That’s not happening anymore. The index dropped 3% on Wednesday and continues to fall Thursday.
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The chill this cast among executives at the JPMorgan Healthcare conference was palpable Wednesday. Those, both with drugs on the market and that have drugs in development, said the concern is that Trump will scare investors away from the industry. If investors start to shy away from investing in risky new medicine, that could keep treatments from making it all the way through the drug development process, they said.
And the “murder” comment hit a nerve for those in an industry that’s all about trying to find new ways to improve people’s health. Some took to Twitter.
We are trying to save lives, not extinguish them. And against very steep odds. Many easier ways to make a living. Like running dad’s biz.
— Michael Gilman (@michael_gilman) January 11, 2017
Ultimately, we want same thing as PEOTUS 1) supportive enviro 4 innovation 2) pt access & affordability of Rx 3) smart people w good US jobs
— Brent Saunders (@brentlsaunders) January 11, 2017
The drug industry is saving lives not getting away with murder. Drug pricing abuses need to be fixed, but that’s a shameless soundbite.
— Brad Loncar (@bradloncar) January 11, 2017
Boiling down a complex topic into a sound bite
Drug pricing has been a big topic at the conference this week, with executives from drugmakers to pharmacy benefits managers weighing in – and pointing the finger – over the issue.
And while Trump was able to contain his views on drug pricing to a few comments in a press conference, the reality is that drug pricing is a complex issue with a lot of players that all want a piece. It’s something that companies have been discussing more frequently, pushing for transparency that could show just how much the list price might differ from the net price that companies receive after rebates.
“Any Band-Aid that’s focused on a single part of that process I don’t believe will be helpful in the long run,” Gene Kinney CEO of Prothena Biosciences, a company focusing on protein immunotherapy told Business Insider Wednesday. “What we need is a comprehensive solution. I don’t feel like that dialogue is quite to the point where it needs to be yet.”
Whether Trump is going to take his commentary beyond the soundbites remains to be seen.